Sept. 5, 2001
Contact: Lucas Hamilton
State Auditor John Morrison said Wednesday that victims of Montana's wildfires are not powerless to reclaim their losses and encouraged them to take action.
"Anytime a fire breaks out, our first concern is for people's safety," said Morrison, Montana's Insurance Commissioner. "Once a fire moves through or around a community, our next concern is assessing the damage and working to make sure people can reclaim their losses."
Evacuation warnings have been issued as the Monarch and Lost Fork fires threaten structures in the Little Belt Mountains. The Great Falls Tribune reported today that the Monarch fire is the nation's top priority.
Morrison said the State Auditor's office is available to answer questions about homeowner's insurance policies and help consumers with the claims process. He said the following list answers some of the questions most frequently asked when a wildfire breaks out near a community:
Your basic homeowner's policy DOES cover damage caused by fire.
Any smoke damage to your property, including the belongings inside, should be covered by your insurance policy.
Damage caused by fire retardant drops is covered by homeowner's insurance.
If you have been evacuated from your home, your insurance company will cover your additional living expenses for up to two weeks, and possibly longer if there is structural damage to your home. Keep your receipts to make filing a claim easier. Some companies have deductibles for this type of claim. Check your policy or ask your insurance agent.
Scorched yards, trees and shrubs generally are covered, but there are limits on the amount you may claim.
Blanket moratoriums imposed by insurance companies on any new or increased levels of coverage are illegal if they are based on geography. If you have been refused coverage on such grounds, we encourage you to contact us.
For more information, call your insurance agent or State Auditor and Insurance Commissioner John Morrison at 1-800-332-6148.
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